Fathers Want Balance, Too

We hear a lot about parity for working moms. What about working dads?

Published: Jun 14, 2019

For years, the balancing act has traditionally been thought of as a working-mom conundrum: how to please two bosses-the one in the office and the little dictator at home.

But fathers are joining the ranks in wanting to reach more of an equilibrium in parenting, and they want workplace policies that satisfy that desire. In a study conducted by the Boston College Center for Work & Family, 66% of fathers said they believed partners should split caregiving duties equally. In actuality, though, only 29% of homes cut child-rearing duties down the middle. The study also found that compared to their female counterparts, fathers experience as much or more work/family conflict.

One survey found traditional fathers make 40% more, on average, compared to fathers who co-parent equally.

Indeed, this tension has been brought to light recently through several cases in which fathers have challenged parental-leave policies at their companies. As Father's Day approaches, here are a few ways working dads can find more ways to make more time for family.

Take the parental leave.

Despite more companies offering parental leave to men, many working dads don't take it. Some of this stems from a fear that taking time off to care for a child will show that you aren't a serious worker. And for those who do take time off? A 2017 Pew survey found that the median leave was only one week.

For the policies to work, then, some career pros say paternity leave should become mandatory to help overcome stigma. The earlier you can have conversations about leave, the better off your manager and colleagues will be for developing a plan to cover your absence, says David Ginchansky, a career coach at Korn Ferry Advance.

Navigate the push and pull of a dual-income household.

One of the biggest discussions in compensation these days is the drive for equal pay. But what's often left unmentioned is the work flexibility needed in dual-income households. A recent New York Times article found that for many high-paying jobs, round-the-clock availability has become a prerequisite for the gig, which makes it difficult for the primary caregiver-often a woman-to be in a position to take such a job.

What's more, the Boston College survey found that traditional fathers make 40% more, on average, compared to fathers who co-parent equally. One way to try to close this gap is to create an awareness of expectations, both with your boss and with your partner, of when you're available.

Make the most of the little moments.

Throughout the child-rearing years, there's a large emphasis put on big milestones not to miss: first steps, birthdays, graduations. But in research done by James Sudakow, author of Out of the Blur: A Delirious Dad's Search for the Holy Grail of Work-Life Balance, day-to-day interactions such as driving the kids to school or taking a walk around the block together after dinner can matter just as much, if not more. The key to making these memories is being totally present, without the distractions of a work email or a phone call. It'll make those 15 minutes matter more.

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